Twins offense blanked in Liriano's return from disabled list
CLEVELAND (AP) -- It took a masterful pitching performance to end Minnesota's five-game winning streak.
Carlos Carrasco and Chris Perez combined to send Minnesota to its sixth shutout of the season. The Twins also had some outstanding pitching, holding the Indians to an unearned run and four hits, but it wasn't enough.
"It was a good ballgame. It could have gone either way and they got the run. You're not going to win many games with three hits," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said after Tuesday night's 1-0 loss to Cleveland, which snapped its five-game losing streak.
Francisco Liriano (3-6) came off the disabled list to make his first start since May 22. The left-hander showed no effects of an inflamed throwing shoulder that had sidelined him, allowing only the unearned run in the fourth. Liriano gave up three hits, struck out seven and walked three in five innings.
"Frankie threw the ball good for us," Gardenhire said. "He misfired a little bit early. He came out of it healthy, which is a good thing for us so we can move on from there."
Liriano wasn't helped by some shoddy defense in the fourth. Carlos Santana doubled to start the inning and reached third when the ball got past left fielder Delmon Young for an error. Santana scored on a groundout to short by Shelley Duncan.
Liriano, who threw 81 pitches, was pleased with his performance.
"My arm didn't bother me," he said. "I felt the way I wanted to. I made some pretty good pitches when I needed to."
The Twins had high praise for Carrasco (5-3), who gave up three hits, struck out six and walked one over 8 1-3 innings. The right-hander has won four of five starts since May 17. He went on the DL with an inflamed right shoulder on April 28, four days after lasting only three innings in a start in Minnesota.
"His ball was moving all over the place," right fielder Michael Cuddyer said. "We faced him twice before, but I didn't remember his sinker moving as much as it did tonight. That's why he was so effective. He kept the ball down at the knees and down at the shins. He kept his velocity up the whole game with movement."
"We ran into a buzz-saw pitcher out there," Gardenhire said. "He really didn't give us much of a chance."
Carrasco retired the first 13 Twins he faced until Young doubled over the head of center fielder Grady Sizemore with one out in the fifth. Young took third when Luke Hughes followed with an infield hit up the middle. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera snagged it with a dive, but Hughes beat the throw to first.
Carrasco then got Brian Dinkelman to foul out and fanned Rene Rivera -- who lost control of the bat waving at strike three. The bat went sailing about 110 feet and landed past third base.
In the seventh, the Twins' Justin Morneau drew a one-out walk. Young followed with a bouncing ball up the middle that shortstop Cabrera got to and shoveled to second baseman Orlando Cabrera with his glove to start a rally-killing double play.
Perez replaced Carrasco after Ben Revere slapped a one-out single through the hole at shortstop in the ninth. Revere took second on a weak groundout by Alexi Casilla before Perez got Cuddyer on a called third strike for his 15th save in 16 chances.
Cuddyer whirled around and got in the face of plate umpire Adrian Johnson, but was restrained by Gardenhire and third base coach Steve Liddle.
"I didn't think that pitch was a strike at all," Cuddyer said. "I thought it was off the plate."
Cuddyer wasn't sure if he made contact with Johnson.
"I don't remember," he said. "I don't know. I know I wasn't happy."
Relievers Chuck James and Phil Dumatrait held the Indians to one hit over the final three innings.
Cleveland broke an eight-game losing streak to the Twins.
NOTES: Morneau played first base after being the DH Monday. He didn't play Saturday and Sunday because of a sore left wrist. ... Twins OF Denard Span returned to Minnesota to have his sore neck examined by team doctors. He was hurt sliding into home plate Friday against Kansas City and didn't play Saturday and Sunday. Gardenhire said Span is experiencing the same lightheaded symptoms he had from an inner ear infection in 2009. ... C Joe Mauer, who is playing at Class A Fort Myers, had a scheduled day off Tuesday. He caught five innings Monday and will catch six to nine innings Wednesday. Mauer has been on the disabled list since April 14 with leg weakness.